8 Way-Too-Common Habits That Sabotage Your Self-Confidence (and Make You Look Insecure)

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 27, 2024 at 6:3PM UTC

As women, we’re conditioned to question our worth in the workplace. Many of us lack confidence in our careers and beyond, even if our self-doubt is unfounded — as it so often is. 

But confidence is essential for all spheres of our lives, from social settings to work contexts. Looking to build it up? Start by killing these eight habits.

1. Negative self-talk.

That nagging little voice telling you you’re not good enough, you should have done things differently, you should be prettier, smarter, thinner — that’s not doing you any favors. It’s a truism that we’re our own worst critics.

Every time you start criticizing yourself, tell that voice in your head to shut up. Instead, try talking to yourself as though you’re a friend, family member or acquaintance. You wouldn’t berate them like this, would you?

2. Self-deprecation.

A related habit that’s hurting your confidence is when you vocalize your perceived flaws to others. If you’re constantly putting yourself down, others won’t want to be around you — which will harm your self-esteem even more. After all, it’s no fun to spend time with people who are constantly pointing out what’s wrong with themselves. It’s just as irritating as people who are overly confident and brag about their qualities.

Moreover, people might start to believe the things you say about yourself are true, which will harm your public and private image.

3. Constantly comparing yourself to other people.

When you compare yourself to others, you’re not giving yourself credit for your strengths and accomplishments. Instead of enjoying what you have, you're focusing on how it measures up to have someone else have, which will never leave you feeling satisfied. And you can always find someone you think has more than you.

The truth is, everyone has their own issues. Just like you, they have hangups, frustrations and times when they feel less-than. Even that person who seems to have it all faces setbacks. 

4. Procrastinating.

We all do it from time to time. Putting off a work task until the last minute, waiting until you run out of underwear to do laundry...you know the drill. But if you perpetually procrastinate, you’re self-sabotaging.

This can take several forms. If you keep putting off intimidating tasks, for example, instead of relaxing during the time before you actually complete them, you’ll be thinking about them and become more and more anxious, driving yourself into a tailspin. You may even start thinking you can’t complete them.

Or, perhaps you have life goals you’ve been putting off, telling yourself that one day you’ll take the plunge. But one day never comes. Either way, you’re adversely impacting your confidence.

5. Putting other people down.

You think you’re making yourself better by pointing out other people’s flaws. Actually, you’re doing the opposite. People often try to lift themselves up by putting other people down, but all it serves to do is make them focus on the things they don’t like about themselves. And you’re becoming someone you probably don’t even like very much, which will hurt your self-esteem. (Not to mention the fact that others won’t like this side of you, either.)

6. Focusing on what other people think.

If you spend too much time looking for external validation — praise from others, for example — then you’re not focusing on what actually makes you happy. Instead, try to focus on what you think. To truly like yourself, you should consider the qualities and characteristics you admire about you. 

You shouldn’t need others to heap praise on your achievements in order to feel worthwhile. Feel worthwhile because of your values and strengths.

7. Dwelling on your mistakes.

We all make mistakes. Some mistakes are admittedly bigger than others. But at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, you need to let it go and move on. You can’t change the past. Once you’ve taken any steps you can take to ameliorate the situation, like apologizing to someone you’ve wronged, you need to start accepting that you’ve done what you can.

Perseverating on past wrongdoings will eat away at your self-confidence. It will make you question yourself and, often, blow even minor errors out of proportion. Remember: you’re not a collection of your worst mistakes. You need to forgive yourself.

8. Acting helpless.

Some people have bad luck, it’s true. But if you act like a victim, allowing things to happen to you without taking control of your life and your choices, you’re taking away your own agency. This self-sabotaging behavior — acting helpless in the face of conflict and obstacles — can feel almost inevitable sometimes (we all feel overwhelmed by things that are seemingly out of our control), but try to move past it. Of course, you can take time to feel upset, but set a deadline for when you need to take control and create a plan about what to do next.

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